Lucia del Carpio

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Abstract:

This paper investigates whether social identity considerations and norms may play a role in the decisions of women to enter a male-dominated industry, namely the high growth technology sector, and how women trade-off the monetary and non-monetary attributes as they self-select into an industry. We ran field experiments in Peru and Mexico where we randomly vary the recruitment message to potential applicants to a 5-month software coding program offered only to women. In addition to a control message with generic information, in a treatment message we correct misperceptions about women’s ability to pursue a career in technology, provide role models and highlight the fact that the program is offered solely to women. We find that treatment exposure doubles the probability of applying (from 7% to 15%), and identify the elements that drive this change. Our empowerment message appears to be increasing the interest of women in pursuing a career in the tech sector and attracting more high performing candidates. In addition, by studying how the change in self-selection into the industry with our treatment heterogeneously affects women with different skill levels and different beliefs on the role of women we infer the drivers of women’s choices and how they trade-off preferences over financial returns versus non-financial benefits.

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